Finnish pilot ball for weather observations.

See how these amazing colour photos of Finland during WW2 bring the past to life

Finnish pilot ball for weather observations.

Rare colour photos of Finland during World War 2 show the reality of war in a way that black and white can’t.

We’ve all learned about World War II, whether reading about it in a history textbook or hearing stories passed down from a grandparent. We’ve also seen photos, grim black and white depictions from a time that doesn’t always feel entirely real to younger generations. The stories and photos become far removed from the vivid reality that is war, with many people today forgetting that those shown in black and white were real people who fought and suffered. And that’s precisely why colour photographs are so important. Colour photographs were a rarity at the beginning of WW2, with Kodachrome only making its way into use in the mid-1930s. However, rare examples of colour shots do exist, and they are nothing short of spectacular.

If you’re a WW2 history buff, you’ll want to take a look at the photo archives of the Finnish Defence Forces, which spans the years 1939-1945. With over 160,000 photos and videos available online, it’s an excellent place to discover both black and white and colour photos that depict everything from soldiers during their downtime to the devastating effects of war in Finland. We’ve browsed the collection of over 800 color photos and chosen a few of the most interesting ones to showcase here, along with English translations of the original captions. We encourage you to head over to SA-Kuva to check out the rest of them — this vast collection is an incredibly valuable addition to history and is absolutely worth a look.




The fire of Poventsa and urban warfare. Poventsa. July 2, 1941.

The fire of Poventsa and urban warfare. Poventsa. July 2, 1941.

 

Road signage at the crossroads of the western shore of Kotikoski. Alakurtti (Salla). September 26, 1941.

Road signage at the crossroads of the western shore of Kotikoski. Alakurtti (Salla). September 26, 1941.

 

From the German navy parade (Einsatzstab Fähre Ost) from Lahdenpohja. Lahdenpohja, Laatokka. August 13, 1942.

From the German navy parade (Einsatzstab Fähre Ost) from Lahdenpohja. Lahdenpohja, Laatokka. August 13, 1942.

 

WW2 propaganda posters in Vyborg.

Propaganda posters in Vyborg. September 30, 1941.

 

The fire of Poventsa, Finland during ww2.

The fire of Poventsa. July 2, 1942.

 

Captain Karhunen, recipient of the Mannerheim Cross. Karhunen has downed 31 enemy aircraft.

Captain Karhunen, recipient of the Mannerheim Cross. Karhunen has downed 31 enemy aircraft. Suulajärvi. August 26, 1943.




Finnish soldier Olavi Paavolainen stands on a log in a lake.

In picture: Olavi Paavolainen. August, 1942.

 

43rd light anti-aircraft divison. Gun (Bofors) in position near the township of Nokia. April 25, 1944.

43rd light anti-aircraft divison. Gun (Bofors) in position near the township of Nokia. April 25, 1944.

 

”Showering” after sauna in the waves of Kellokoski.

”Showering” after sauna in the waves of Kellokoski. Petsamo, Luttojoki. July 12, 1942.

 

Er.Os.P:n tarvikkeiden lastauspaikka Kallokosken alla. Sotilaita tauolla.

Er.Os.P:n tarvikkeiden lastauspaikka Kallokosken alla. Sotilaita tauolla.

 

Events during a commemorative day for war heroes in Joensuu. War hero funeral.

Events during a commemorative day for war heroes in Joensuu. War hero funeral. May 19, 1940.

 




The men of the Häme Cavalry Regiment(HRR) on horseback and skiing.

The men of the Häme Cavalry Regiment(HRR) on horseback and skiing. Velikaja Niva. March 15, 1942.

 

Finnish WW2 Second Lieutenant smoking his pipe.

Second Lieutenant smoking his pipe. April, 1942.

 

Soldier resting during WW2 in Finland.

Soldier resting. July, 1942.

 

The seminary entertain Finnish troops with dancing in May 1943.

Sortavala seminary entertainment. Syväri, power plant sector in May 1943.

 

Finnish journalist Olavi Paavolainen picks berries from a tree during WW2.

In picture: Olavi Paavolainen. August, 1942.

 

Finnish soldiers in a firing shelter during WW2. 1941.

Soldiers in a firing shelter. 1941.

 

Curtiss-Hawk (CU-580) aircraft over Lotinapelto. Photographed from a FK aircraft, Air Force Regiment 1. October 16, 1943.

Curtiss-Hawk (CU-580) aircraft over Lotinapelto. Photographed from a FK aircraft, Air Force Regiment 1. October 16, 1943.

 

76.2 mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun firing. Helsinki, Taivaskallio. October 23, 1942.

76.2 mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun firing. Helsinki, Taivaskallio. October 23, 1942.

 

650 - Hiihto-osasto matkalla. Ski patrol on the move. Petsamo, Kukkesjaur. April 14, 1942.

650 – Hiihto-osasto matkalla.
Ski patrol on the move. Petsamo, Kukkesjaur. April 14, 1942.

Soldiers approaching new positions.

Soldiers approaching new positions.

 

Caught fish.

Caught fish.

 

SB-2 bomber on air field, engines running

SB-2 bomber on air field, engines running.

 

Weather observations, pilot ball.

Weather observations, pilot ball.*

(*Note: pilot balls were used for observing meteorological conditions and checking wind currents)

All image credits go to SA-Kuva. Be sure to head over to the site and check out the rest of the collection. Clear your schedule, because there’s a good chance you’ll spend hours looking at their amazing content.

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8 replies
    • Pekka
      Pekka says:

      Finlandia-Kuva (Finlandia-Photo photo agency) ordered at late thirties Zeiss Contax photo equipment (camera bodies and Zeiss lenses) for 1940 Olympic Games. Olympic Games were suspended and cameras and lenses were seizured during The Winter War by Finnish Army. Those Contaxes were the main equipment of the Information Companies of Finnish Army. The colour film was mostly from Agfa.

      Reply
  1. rjfp
    rjfp says:

    Vyborg is a Russian name that’s only been in use since the Soviet Union annexed the Swedish/Finnish city at the end of the Second World War. Using it for these pictures is anachronistic.

    Reply
    • Niklas
      Niklas says:

      Where do you get this from? I believe it has been called Viborg (swe) and/or Viipuri (fin) since forever. The first clues are on a swedish runestone from around 1100 a.d, upon where is written, that a person called “Uiburk” is buried there.

      Reply

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